Embarking on a PhD programme is difficult; it consumes years, and the dropout rate is quite high. In India, completing a PhD programme can take minimum five years. That is 1825 days or 8 percent of your life if you live up to 65 years. The programme is typically broken down into 1-2 years of course work followed by 3-5 years of original research to produce.
Many people start PhD with a vague interest and spend first 2-3 years to figure out the novel aspect of research and yet many are unaware of their target audience. The fact is that they find themselves trapped in a poor research culture that turns them out to be the clueless creatures.
Like any other PhD student, I used to have dull feelings. I used to think as why did i put myself out in this tight spot. Why I allowed MS Word and MS Excel to become such a big part of my life. I may be lying if I deny that I have never felt so low, so bleak, so tensed and so despairing. There were times when I ended up saying that I hate my life. Not surprisingly, most of PhD students’ misery revolves round their incompetent supervisors who treat them like rubbish. They find themselves in such position of power that their students are afraid to stand up to them.
Some supervisors are like ghosts appearing rarely for a fleeting moment and their students are likely to meet them at conferences than at universities. Others are always around, yet they fail to dwell upon the work of their students. Similarly some students try to have frequent meetings with their supervisors but they fail to find a single good suggestion out of them.
Unfortunately some students are even forced for “other favours”, if they want doctorate before their expected time.
Most doctoral students actually see their supervisors as significant obstacles to timely completion. Agreed that the supervisors are not there to take decisions for their students and instead their role is to guide them in the complex task of doing a PhD but what if they turn out to be selfish advisors adding frustration to their students without any valid reason?
The intensity of terror goes to the extent that if a PhD student gets up late in the morning and finds four missed calls from his supervisor, he will certainly not move towards the washroom because it has scared him already.
Many students end up their PhD dreams after spending a substantial amount of time into it. The funny thing is that most of the supervisors have a bad reputation in their departments yet they manage to get students to work for them. However, it is not a legitimate thing to say that one should not pursue a PhD under such trauma. I presume that it is a common issue where PhD students are not valued up to their caliber and are exploited most of the times in many regards. I believe research is a painstaking process. It must be pursued meticulously, honestly and with an open mind to achieve the required level of objectivity and validity. The researcher must always have such factors in mind else he would succumb to the temptation to get involved in unethical practices that can annihilate his reputation and academic integrity.
One doesn’t have to be super intelligent to acquire a PhD. If that was essential, a lot of people who have this honour would never have made it. What one needs more than anything else is persistence, persistence and more persistence.
A PhD thesis is something realistic to achieve. It does not have to win the Nobel Prize or solve the mysteries of the universe. It can be excellent but will never be perfect. There can be lot of setbacks along the way that can change a normal functioning human soul to being a paralyzed one. One should not anticipate that his supervisor will be around to help him out, nor should he suppose that his every experiment would work because he must bear in mind that nature does not tell the secret easily.
In order to get this honour in a legitimate way, one has to go through years of stress, depression, humiliation and financial hardship. I firmly believe that supervisor’s tormenting actions essentially provokes a researcher to chase for a shortcut means of pursuing assignments to meet their deadlines. This is one of the reasons as why Indian universities are not able to produce impactful research and why its research output lack global insight and orientation.
In India, Higher Education Ministry and University Grants Commission have miserably failed to address this serious concern. I wish all PhD students be lucky enough to have supervisors who not only supervise their thesis but also arrange funding for them and provide them with a career advice.